Your Spectrum
Issue 21, December 1985 - Joystick Jury
Home Contents KwikPik
J . . O . . Y . . S . . T . . I . . C . . K JURY
Where do you go for arcade action? Rick, Ross and Dougie are game for a graft as they tackle this month's hot new releases.

Melbourne House / £7.95

Ross: Another game continuing the current trend of combats but this one is presented in a refreshingly different style. The game is set in
ancient Egypt and. includes scrolling backgrounds and an assortment of mythical creatures.
You control an Egyptian warrior and your quest is to rescue a beautiful princess held captive by a power crazy Pharaoh. To do this you must fight your way past all manner of monsters and half man half animal type creatures to reach the temple where the princess is imprisoned.
The game's very like karate games in that your figure faces to the right and fights all those who cross his path. You carry what looks like a staff which can be wielded in three ways. It can be swung to strike the opponent high or low or thrusted at the middle of their bodies. You can always jump or duck and move forwards or backwards.
All the creatures and your own warrior move very fluidly, behave differently and have
varying strengths which makes the game even more interesting.
Unfortunately it lacks a few finishing touches which spoils its playability. The joystick control, for example, doesn't respond to diagonals, you can't back away from the monsters without them advancing on you and the graphics repeat very rapidly. Probably because there's only four or five of them.
The animation and graphics are on the whole superb and the game's a good 'un. It did seem to lack depth and often turned into a session of trading blows, with the winner being the one with the most strength points. It'll probably be a fighting success! 8/10
Rick: The graphics from Melbourne House are getting bigger and brighter all the time. I love it! 9/10
Dougie: One of the best variations on the karate theme I've seen. 9/10
D O U G I E ' S   R A V E   O F   T H E   M O N T H
Durell Software / £8.95

Dougie: This is the biz! Critical Mass is one of those all too rare games that combines some of the tried and tested methods of a golden oldie, Asteroids, with plenty of new and refreshing elements.
Far out (Man? Ed) in the galaxy, at the outer edge of man's expansion, a colony of humans is under attack - only this time the aliens are being very sneaky about their subterfuge.
Now there's none of the old full frontal onslaught - after aeons of playing computer games we humans have learned how to handle that! No, they've sneaked in the back door and captured the colony power supply that's located on an asteroid. It's from there that they're threatening self-destruction unless the colonists capitulate immediately. Stay calm - help is at hand!
You have to penetrate the alien defences on the asteroid and disable the anti-matter plant before it can reach Critical Mass. That's the only way of ensuring that the asteroid and everything else within a few billion light years of it, doesn't disappear down an extremely large black hole.
You hover above the barren surface of the asteroid in your land skimmer - a tricky task on its own as it's a ground effect vehicle and so extremely hard to manoeuvre. Plus, you must also defend yourself against marauding alien ships, look out for rocks and watch out that you don't run over the land mines. If your ship is hit, it'll eject you just before it's blown to smithereens, so you've a chance to reach a replacement pod. But keep a sharp eye out for the Dune-style worm creatures that come wrigglin' and writhin' out of the sand on the trail of breakfast.
The graphics and playability of this game are superb, making it well worth the money. 9/10
Your ship uses a hovercraft-style principle so it's pretty tricky to control. You have to turn the ship in the direction you want and then apply the thrust in the opposite - direction! CRITICAL MASS screen Mined the Gap! Stationary landmines are no hassle but the spinners move around and are almost always fatal if you hit them ...
Alien ships don't really harm you but they do get in the way and slow you down.
  When you're flying, the arrow shows the direction of the next alien attack wave. If the ship is destroyed, it shows the direction of the nearest emergency pool.  
The place is riddled with Sandworms, particularly if you're using your emergency jetpack. But they can't actually kill you as long as you've got some energy left! CRITICAL MASS screen Mind the rocks and heaps of jagged crystals as they'll drain your shield if you hit them.
Don't go crazy with the laser - you've only got a limited amount of energy and you'll need it to make it to the next zone ...   This indicator keeps track of your score and the time left till the reactor blows - when it reaches zero, it's all over folks!  

J . . O . . Y . . S . . T . . I . . C . . K JURY

Hewson Consultants / £7.95

Ross: Not only is this game a follow on from the arcade adventure Dragontorc but also from the Seiddab Trilogy. It's obvious innit 'cos it combines similar adventure sequences and
arcade action.
In the adventure sequence you control a figure who is on a space station moving from room to room in a search for hidden objects. Control is much the same as in other games except that you can request your figure to perform different actions. Pressing the fire button displays a series of icons that allow you to move the figure around, move both his arms independently and control a laser. Objects can be picked up, carried and dropped with the arms.
The status area in the bottom centre of the screen displays your laser's energy level, the available oxygen and any objects you're carrying. This part of the game is very similar to other Hewson productions but it does have a few twists.
Well, what about the arcade action I hear you cry. In this section of the game you must gain control of your 24 fighter craft so you can
destroy the Seiddab fleet encroaching into various local star systems in a last ditch attempt (we hope) to destroy civilisation as we know it. It plays very like Defender which is pretty good considering the memory that it must have been squeezed into.
Hewson has made an excellent attempt at mixing two completely different styles of game in Astroclone but I can't help wondering whether this will appeal to the buying public. The question is, do adventurers want to play the zappy bits and do arcade freaks want to solve the puzzles? 7/10
Rick: Oh no! Not another Avalon clone! There's no peace for the wicked. 4/10
Dougie: Avalon was never in itself state of the art but it has a big following so I've no doubt it will sell by default alone. 7/10

Quicksilva / £7.99

Rick: Hey, this one is really weird man! See, there's this bear who wears these wacky yanky
golfing pants and he can walk, jump and - wait for it - climb the stairs. But he doesn't drink lager, well this is one for the kids, innit?
Rupert (that's the bear's name kids) has got to collect his many invitations to see his even weirder friends Bill the Badger and Podgy the Pig - you know one of those parties! Well Rupert needs more invitations than Podgy's had hot dinners, and not only that, naughty toy soldiers and toy trains try to trip him up along the way, though some will be very good sports and help him. They'll need to 'cos you have to go through four linked screens for each of the eight levels.
Unfortunately Rupert also has an embarrassing speech impediment which means all the screen instructions are in dum-di-dum rhyming couplets which will maim many an innocent ear to the power of poetry.
The toymaker's castle, its corridors and
castellations were presumably built by Barrett - or does that reflect the quality of the graphics? Rupert does look quite a lot like he did in the comic, though some wish he'd stay there. Oh, and he still wears that scarf to hide his love bites.
Quicksilva hasn't aimed so much at the mega-tots but their spinster aunts who feel that if Toby or Fenella have to have one of those awful computer games then this safe, competent platform game is the one to get. I'm afraid though that little Toby will be out on the corner with that vulgar Wayne doing a deal for a quick Buck Rogers. 4/10
Ross: Frankie goes to the toymaker's party in this cute number. Not as good as the (dare I say it?) Commie version, but it'll do. 6/10
Dougie: Frankly, I'd still prefer a copy of the annual in my Christmas stocking. 4/10
R I C K ' S   R A V E   O F   T H E   M O N T H
New Generation / £4.95

Rick: Well scroll on, New Generation's Custard Kid is the one to play with your spotted dick - if you see what I mean. The Custard Kid is a variation on the old favourite Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, but this time Our Kid, who shows no yellow streak and is certainly not one for the Birds, has to search a custard factory to find 12 recipes. Funny I only know one way to make the stuff - open can, pour into saucepan ...
With over 600 locations it wouldn't just be Laurel and Hardy who'd enjoy the custard pie potential of this game, which incidentally has a 'find an object and save it for a rainy day' facility. If you wanna be a successful cordon bleu of blancmange you'll have to do the mapping yourself!
You're in a bit of a sticky situation 'cos you gotta search the scrolling yellow corridors before you go for the chests with coloured keys. These keys are used to open certain
Keys aren't reusable but doors once unlocked stay unlocked. Once a key has been put in a door, the appropriate window turns black. THE CUSTARD KID screen Custard features can only pick something up if he's not already holding something. Fortunately, his cavernous pockets hold a great deal ...
If it moves, it's dangerous. One false step and you could be reduced to a bottle of St Ivel Five Pints. The milk bottles show how much life you have left ... and no, milking the cow just doesn't help!
  Every screen has its closed chest. Walk over it to discover what's inside - it could be a key, a nastie or even a copper!  
rooms, one of which may contain the custard detector. You'll also have to fill up with milky victuals to keep the stamina up. Only then can you pass to the green corridor to look for those illustrious recipes.
But you'll need a lotta bottle to search those chests - they might contain the yellow peril - the feared custard monsters or even worse the custodians of the custard
who'll send you to jail. Along the way a few useful Items can turn up - money to bribe the guards, spoons to devour the custard monster, whose help might mean a grapple with a globule isn't Kid Custard's last stand.
Non-sexist, non-racist and very very violent (and extremely messy) this is one for jelly and ice cream and good games freaks everywhere. 9/10

J . . O . . Y . . S . . T . . I . . C . . K JURY

Gremlin Graphics / £7.95

Ross: Poor ol' Grumpy Gumphrey. It's a hard life being a store defective - especially when you're getting on a bit and you reckon it's about time to take things easier. I mean, the shoplifters are getting younger and it's hard to spot them if the old eyes aren't what they used to be. On top of that the boss is out to get you, as he thinks you're a lazy old beep and he's got you running errands all over the place. So you'd better be on your toes 'cos as soon as you put a foot wrong, you're out on your ear, P45 an' all!
Your day at the store starts at 9am. Not only do you have to catch any shoplifters but when the boss says jump, you jump - and you'd better not be late with his tea. In between times, you'll have to cope with floods, fires and even an
escaped gorilla monkeying about in the store.
Playing the game is pretty simple, although the controls aren't exactly responsive and the lifts between floors are prone to get stuck sometimes - I haven't sussed out if that's a feature or a gremlin.
Overall, this game's not bad but it feels as if there's something missing - not fun but perhaps addictiveness. I certainly don't think you could class it as one of the Gremlin Greats. 5/10
Dougie: For a complex 3D game, I'm amazed at how they've overcome the colour problems. Get's my vote on that alone. 7/10
Rick: So, Gremlin's taken the leap off the platforms into something altogether different. Out of the frying pan? 'Fraid so. 5/10

Artic / £6.95

Ross: Big Ben Strikes Again, or does he?
Bungling Ben, the hopeless hack from the Chronicle, has just received a report of a leak in Parliament. So off he bumbles down to Westminster for the scoop of the century - or that's the theory anyway!
As Ben you've got to chase around the House looking for the six politicians who'll help you unravel your story. There's no doubt that Spitting Image would certainly be proud of the caricatures of the leading MPs! But you can't just go charging up to them and expect them to hand you the story on a plate. Oh no siree, you have to collect gifts for them in exchange for their snippets of information. Like all politicians they just love to be pampered! Hurry though, you must have your story before Big Ben strikes twelve. Perhaps you've never seen the wrath of an editor when you hand in late copy -
it starts 'em foaming at the mouth. (Grrrr! Ed).
One of the best features of this game is the screen editor and designer that's included in the program. It's strides ahead of some of the game designer packages I've seen. It lets you completely re-design and add new features to any of the twenty screens, so you never have to play the same game twice. Give it a go if you're into designing your own games. 6/10
Dougie: Hmm, the age of flickering graphics isn't dead - thanks to a comeback in this game. 4/10
Rick: It's worth taking a look at this one if only for the cracking caricatures of our illustrious (ho hum) leaders. Whether it's worth playing is another matter. 5/10

Artic / £7.95

Ross: I say chaps let's have a game of rugger - at
least it's a real man's sport. None of your wimpy Everyone's A Wally stuff for us, eh? Right, on with the shorts and on with the matcho.
International Rugger's another sport simulation of the type that's so popular at the moment. We're here for the Rome International Rugby Tournament with the choice of siding with England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales or France. And your job? Even a rugby player could wrap his brain cell round this one - you just have to win the Triple Crown or the Grand Slam.
You have the choice of playing by yourself or against the computer and you can make it hard or easy on yourself. There's everything you'd expect in a real rugby game - drop kicks, tries, conversions, line outs, scrums, the lot - except
for bruises and, broken bones!
And if you don't know a rugby ball from a ball bearing, don't despair - you can always give it a go on the practice mode. For a sports simulation, the graphics and the playability aren't up to the standard of, say, Imagine's Basketball, but then that's a completely different ball-game. If you're a rugger fan then you'll still have fun chasing the ball around the screen. 5/10
Rick: You control these little people three pixels high, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to rugby players - and I loved it! 7/10
Dougie: You control these little people three pixels high, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to rugby players - and I hated it! (OK, who's been looking over whose shoulder? Ed). 4/10

Electric Dreams / £7.95

Dougie: Riddle me this. My first is in arcade and my second is in adventure. What am I? (D'you really want me to answer that? Ed) Riddlers Den, of course. This is an arcade game that plays like an adventure.
So, instead of rushing about like a headless chicken through loads and loads of rooms (that all look much the same) and collecting as much treasure as you can before you run out of energy, you'll have to get the ol' grey matter into gear. Otherwise you're not going to get far at all. Not that you can't rush about like a loony if you want to - there's even a bank where you can stash your loot.
Your task is to get your mitts on the Golden Tusk, but don't expect to come close without a
lot of brainache. And just to make life interesting, there's a full complement of goblins and ogres, dragons and gargoyles, plus a raging bull and a giant spider.
Just like in a true adventure you can only carry a certain number of objects that can then be used only at certain times or places. Overall, Riddlers Den is both absorbing and frustrating at the same time - it's just a riddle why other games can't reach this sort of standard! 7/10
Ross: Who could resist playing the part of a cute little elephant in search of the Golden Tusk. Great graphics make for a great adventure. 8/10
Rick: Good riddlance to this! It had me going flat out on my tasks for the tusk. 7/10

J . . O . . Y . . S . . T . . I . . C . . K JURY

Bubble Bus Software / £7.95

Dougie: Great galactic gargleblasters, an
unstable planet has just emerged from a black hole and the galaxy is gonna go Boom unless you stop it!
As BLOB (Bio-Logically Operated Being) you're the man for the job, the man in the know, so off you go. Starquake is a mega-massive arcade adventure in the Sabre Wulf / Nodes of Yesod mould. All you have to do is save the galaxy from total destruction - so c'mon, by now that should be a complete doddle.
For openers, you must find your way about the inside of the planet, locate the missing pieces of the core and rebuild it. En route, you'll come across a whole host of objects that'll come in handy including your flexible friend - Axes or sumfin!
I'm reliably informed that there are 512 different screens in Starquake, but I can't verify this as I
ran out of fingers and tootsies! There are also over twenty different monsters and fifteen teleports - only one problem, you have to find the correct teleport codes and I've been sworn to secrecy. (Used notes only please, in a plain brown wrapper.)
If you're into arcade adventures, Starquake's one of the best around at the moment. And you don't even have to take your brain out of neutral to play it. 7/10
Ross: If it weren't for Ultimate, I'd say this game was totally original - but then Ultimate does exist! 5/10
Rick: This matches, even beats the standards of most games. Now it's cracked the technique, perhaps Bubble Bus'll have a go at coming up with some fresh ideas. 7/10

Imagine / £7.95

Dougie: Watch out, the Globe Trotters are
about. Keep your feet on the beat and the ball on the bounce!
We can all name sports that haven't translated at all well into computer games, but Basketball's one of the exceptions. As soon as the players come bounding out onto the court you can tell that this game's better than your average offering. All the men are well animated and move smoothly around the screen at a speed that must have the sprite routine working overtime.
You can play Basketball against one of your buddies or against the computer. Each game lasts six minutes and is divided into two halves of three minutes each (Cor and how else might they be divided? Ed). If the outcome's a draw, you're given another thirty seconds to battle for those baskets.
You'll find controlling the players is a touch tricky at first so it's just as well there's a practice mode for improving your dribbling skills and passing techniques. Once you've got the hang of that, you're in with a good chance of taking the computer to the cleaners. But you'll have to maintain very accurate passing and shooting before you win.
Basketball is not only fun but it's also one of those games you keep coming back to. Net yourself a copy! 8/10
Rick: Done 'emself proud, has Imagine! This is a worthy follow-up to World Series Baseball. 9/10
Ross: Imagine's certainly making a name for itself with this series of sport simulations. What d'you mean it made a name for itself once before! Still, a goodie. 8/10

Partyline / £6.95

Rick: I s'pose it makes a change from painting
the town red. Partyline's Maze Craze could cause a yellow fever of excitement if you've never been dazed by a maze game before. Otherwise there's little here that an awayday to Hampton Court couldn't provide.
The game is simplicity itself. And the more simple you are the more you'll enjoy it. You've got to guide your man about the maze, choosing a level of difficulty between one and nine depending on how much you like wriggling your wrist.
As the man progresses he'll excrete something yellow to colour the maze. You better be quick though 'cos one of the beastly beasties has a taste for this sort of thing (rabbits do something similar, I believe) and he'll gobble up your trail.
On leaving the yellow brick road you've to
collect moths of various value whilst avoiding the statutory plonkers and munchies! The moths get reincarnated and die as quickly as interest in this game and if you catch a frog or a bug you can enter one of the four special mazes.
Here the 'ugly bug ball' continues and pretty terrifyingly for those in awe of arachnids. 'Cos here comes a spider to sit down beside yer - and only a kamikaze dive with the poison bottle can save you. The khazi isn't the first place I'd despatch this game. Little 'uns who like pulling the legs off spiders or zapping flies in the microwave might get a kick out of it. 3/10
Ross: Urrrgghhhh! 0/10
Dougie: Even if the game's a pile of old dross you've got to give it to Partyline for being brave enough to release it. 1/10

Rabbit Software / £3.99

[The screenshot printed in the magazine was upside down.]
Rick: Rabbit Software takes a few Pepys into the past (Groan! Ed) with a re- enactment of the Great Fire of London. 1666 style, that is, not the summer of '81 or the autumn of '86. Forget all that stuff about it starting in a baker's shop in Pudding Lane because Alfred burnt his cakes while watching a spider. This fire can start anywhere and if you choose the variable wind option this bright spark of a burn-up will need some fast thought and action if it's to be extinguished.
Don't be diverted by the flashing graphic depicting the fire - even if it does look more like a stroboscope.
Essentially this is a strategy game with a degree of maze built in. A pretty accurate scrolling map unfurls as you, the mayor,
frantically beetle around mobilizing water pumps, demolition gangs and gunpowder men to deploy in a complete frenzy to contain the conflagration.
All in all a thorough quick-fire strategy game, which, if not exactly hot stuff has no obvious defects and might give you something to do other than fiddle while London burns around you. 6/10
Ross: Not quite state of the art programming but it's addictive and a pyromaniac's dream. 8/10
Dougie: Being a Scot, I didn't half enjoy burning London down! And I'm sure everyone would enjoy seeing parliament go up in smoke! 8/10

J . . O . . Y . . S . . T . . I . . C . . K JURY
HACKER screen

Activision / £7.95

[The screenshot printed in the magazine does not appear in the game; I've used an actual one here.]

Dougie: Phew, my brain hurts! A trifle perplexing this little number - the only
instructions on the packaging tell you how to load the program. Nothing else, zilch, zero ...
Panic not - we've already pieced together the plot. It seems you take the part of a computer hacker who's just about to finish off a night on the phone. But then he accidentally dials a wrong number and the intriguing words LOGON PLEASE appear on the screen.
Of course, you're an experienced hacker so you try all the normal passwords - FRED, HELLO, GUEST and so on - all to no avail. No problem though, 'cos after you've tried to log on three times, the program lets you into the system anyway.
So, we're in and we're off! And the first thing you have to do is complete a laser test on the SRU (Subterranean Remote Unit). It's a trifle tricky at first, but once you discover the Infrared Video Image Sensor, then the Asynchronous Data Compactor, the Hydraulic Motovator, the Phlasmon Joint and the
Thelman Port are a doddle to find.
Now, the plot thickens as you discover that you're in the computer of Magma Ltd. The firm has discovered how to use the Thermal Differential of Magma as a virtually unlimited power source. And with that, world domination is only a matter of days away. It's your duty as a citizen of the free world to stop them. And as much as I'd like to help you with more info - well the cheque from Magma to stop me talking came in handy.
This is definitely a game for those of you who like pitting your wits against the machine. 6/10
Ross: A very clever idea that'll let you get the feel for hacking. I'm just not sure whether Activision's pulled it off. 7/10
Rick: A great game that lets you avert an astronomic catastrophe without incurring phone bills of astronomic proportions. Well, how'd you like to be cut off in your prime? 8/10

Macmillan / £6.95

Rick: Orm and Cheep doesn't exactly roll off the tongue like Starsky and Hutch or Arfur and Tel
but they're the teeny heroes of the TV screen. Macmillan are definitely aiming this little offering at the under eights. However, in the best tradition of Watch With Mother (or Dad) this game is well presented and requires enough thought to allow oldies to play along too.
The game starts with a reaction test which will determine the ability level you start on. A memory test follows with Cheep, a flighty little thing, having to choose the ingredients for Orm's (the caterpillar with the gorms) birthday.
Cheep, the chatty little canary, then has to round up all the guests for the party too. Hedgehog, snail and mouse can be found through a simple maze which even has signposts to help the lost. Mole's underground tunnels are a little more complex and require some mapping out - all good practice for a budding computer buff. It's not that easy
though - you've got to avoid those nasty baddies the cat, crow and rat whilst you search.
Once the gang's all there they have to be seated in the correct chairs. Having achieved that, the crow turns up and causes a kerfuffle - so you have to start again. Never mind. The program cunningly adjusts the skill level the more accomplished you become.
Good, clear and colourful graphics, excellent sound effects and unpatronising instructions and attitude toward the younger user all go to make this a solid starter and, dare I say, educational game. 8/10
Ross: Takes you back to your childhood, dunnit? Shame about Cheep's broken wing though ... 7/10
Dougie: Educational software always seems to have the best graphics routines - why can't other publishers get to this standard? 8/10
R O S S ' S   R A V E   O F   T H E   M O N T H
Gargoyle Games / £9.95

Ross: So, this is the first in a trilogy, eh? Well, if this one's anything to go by, you can stand by for a real treat. And don't be put off by first impressions - sure, this game looks very similar to Gargoyle's previous offerings, Dun Darach and Tir Na Nog, but the scenario and the problem solving are very different.
The year is 2494 and once again those nasty alien, space invader thingies (these ones are called the Sept) are trying to get their slimy claws on Mother Earth. Your mission is to prevent the impending catastrophe. So, you must penetrate the city computers on Marsport where the aliens are holed out and escape with the plans for a force field to surround earth. No problem, as they say ...
Well, I've got news of you - It ain't that simple. Not only do you have to find your way around Marsport but you've got to do it without being blasted away by the baddies. Start off by mapping your progress - this'll
The lifts move you between levels but you've no control over where they stop. So it's easy to get lost or worse - you could end up on a level where the computer's defences are activated! MARSPORT screen Take a good look around any new corridor using the camera function. You can only see one wall at a time and it's easy to miss something vital on the opposite wall.
All too much for you? Nip into one of the Mars Bars for a quick drink.
Rule One: Make a map or the maze of corridors will beat you every time. Keep your bearings with the compass - otherwise you can wander for daze! Early warning system: this screen will tell you when the bad guys are about to make an appearance ...  
help you find the objects you're gonna need if you stand a hope in hell of penetrating further into the base. It's also the only way to prevent that dizzy feeling you get from going round and round in circles, like I did before I got the hang of it! The graphics are beautifully animated, the controls are excellent and it's great fun to play. And if you're into sci-fi, like me, you'll enjoy it even more. An all-round winner that's well worth lashing out the megabucks on. 9/10
Home Contents KwikPik